When God Takes Away…

 Then Job arose, tore his robe, and shaved his head; and he fell to the ground and worshiped. And he said:

‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
And naked shall I return there.
The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; Blessed be the name of the Lord.’ – Job 1:20-21 NKJV

If you live long enough, there will be a point where God takes away something that you really love and enjoy. This could be a job, a position, a relationship, a dream or even a long time friendship. Just the thought of this can be scary, but there is no way around it. Regardless of how much you love God, things you don’t like will happen. And when loss occurs, it is very easy to become confused and sad.

I can talk about this because I was in this place just over a year ago. I was 22, one year away from college graduation, in what I thought would be my last relationship ever and loving life. But shortly after the one year point, God revealed to us that He wanted our relationship to end. When it happened, I was quietly devastated. I had never experienced being so attached to something and then having it removed from under me. But now that I look back at the situation, I realize that God was working in every single detail.

I want to share some of what I learned from my experience with loss and how to make it through that season.

1. God is sovereign. If He allowed it, there is a great reason for it.

Trusting God is not always easy. It can be downright painful. Seeing something that you loved leave is hard, but there is a point that we have to get to as believers where we decide to trust Him regardless of how we feel. Your faith in God’s plan for you cannot be controlled by your emotions. If it is, you’ll be fickle and you’ll never stand firm. We have to understand that if God allows something to happen, He knew that you could handle it. Nothing that happens to us catches Him off guard, so you have to know that you know that you know that you know that He will help you through it, that He is good and that He is for you.

2. It may not have aligned with His purpose for your life.

There are some ventures and undertakings that we jump into that may benefit us for a time, but that may not align with God’s long-term purpose and vision for our lives. We get comfortable in places when God is trying to move us to where He needs us to be. Maybe God removed it because it wouldn’t have allowed you to reach your fullest potential for Him.

3. He may be saving your from future issues or hurt.

Anytime I think about loss, I remember a testimony a church member shared once. He was serving in the military in Kuwait, and he had been praying that he would be able to return to his family soon. When the day for his scheduled return came, his officers pushed it back and told him that he wouldn’t be leaving yet. He was sad and really disappointed that he wouldn’t be back home when he thought he would be. But shortly thereafter, he was awakened with news that the plane that he wanted to be on had gone down and that people had lost their lives. Sometimes, God is literally blocking issues, pain, hurt or further loss from us by saying “no” right now.

4. He may be removing an idol from you to get closer to you.

I have learned a lot about idols through this experience, so much so that I blogged about it. I’ve realized that God hates them. He will smash them into a billion pieces if you place them where He should be. When I look back, I realize that I had placed the relationship on the altar of my praise, where God should have been. I spent most of my free time with the guy and made no personal time for loving God. The time that I had prior to the relationship quickly vanished. Although I would have said that I was living for God and many people regarded me as an outspoken Christian, God was not the object of my affections. I would have never said that I worshiped my relationship, but my actions said it for me. God is a jealous God. He will not allow us to hold onto those things that keep us from Him, because He loves us that much.

And through all of this, there is hope…

If this speaks to something that you have gone through or if you are currently going through it now, there is hope for you. My best friend Jeida shared something so great with me once. She said, “when we experience loss, we have a choice to make. We can either fill the hole that it left with more things (friends, people, stuff, etc), or we can choose to fill it with Jesus.” When I had to make this choice, I was blessed to have a God-loving friend by my side to help me make the right decision. It was during this time that Jeida would spend hours on the phone with me talking about Jesus, picking me up to go to church and small group Bible studies with her, and she would pray for me when I became sad. Her presence in my life was instrumental to my healing process. That brings me to my first piece of advice for those who are dealing with loss…

1. Surround yourself with a community of God-loving, praying, compassionate and transparent people…

God never meant for us to struggle through issues alone. Galatians 6:2 NKJV says, Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” God created us to be relational people who thrive when in community. We need each other. When you suffer loss, reach out to 2 or 3 people that you can trust who will pour into you, keep your eyes stayed on Christ and just love you sacrificially. The healing process starts when you share what you’re going through. Holding things in doesn’t help. Don’t let pride or shame keep you from getting the support you need. If no one comes to mind, pray and ask God to show you who can support you. If you still have no one, please message me and I will personally pray with you. I mean this.

2. Don’t be ashamed of yourself for crying or feeling down.

Healing from loss usually doesn’t happen overnight. You will experience a wide range of emotions and feelings, but if you give those feelings to God, in time you will be okay. Know that crying or having bad feelings doesn’t mean you don’t trust God, it just means that He is still making you new.

3. Pray, read the word and journal like a madwoman (or madman) and declare God’s promises daily.

Like Jeida said, when you have a void in your life, you have to fill it with something. If you fill it with the knowledge of the love of Christ, His promises, grace, mercy and everything else that is Him, you will receive joy and peace. I poured out my heart to God through prayer and writing in my journal everyday. Some days, I wrote through tears, but I felt relieved as I shared these feelings with my journal and even now when I look back on them, I can see where God has brought me from. What a beautiful sight. Also, declare the promises of God every time you get a chance. When I was going through my toughest days, I repeated certain scriptures and reminders daily. Some of my favorites were:

God is working everything out for my good and for His glory. (this became my motto)

For the Lord God is a sun and shield; The Lord will give grace and glory;
no good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly. – Psalm 84:11 NKJV

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. – Psalm 34:18 NIV

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. – Psalm 46:1 NIV

 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. – 1 Peter 5:7 NIV

 And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. – Galatians 6:9 KJV

You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You. – Isaiah 26:3 NKJV

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. – Romans 8:28 NIV

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. – Romans 8:38-39 ESV

Write these on your mirrors, put them on flash cards, hang them up around your room or do whatever you have to do to be reminded constantly of God’s truth concerning you.

4. Don’t jump into anything else to keep yourself distracted or try to open a door that God has closed.

A huge mistake that many people make, especially after a relationship ends, is jumping into another one to fill that void. They find another person to consume their time, share their broken heart with and try to find solace there. This is so dangerous, both for them and the person whose heart they are involving. After loss, healing must take place. If we pursue another relationship before God’s appointed time, we risk further damaging ourselves and hurting another person. Love protects and it preserves. Do not bring someone else into your life until you are emotionally available and God leads you to do so. Lastly, don’t try to open a door that God closed even if you don’t understand why He did it. Obedience doesn’t require explanations or understanding. In His time, He will reveal things to you and you will be thankful that you obeyed Him. Obedience wins.

5. Renew your mind daily. (Romans 12:2, Ephesians 4:23)

There will be days that you wake up with the memory of what is now gone. It can consume your thoughts, but if you can daily submit your thoughts and your mind to God, you can keep those thoughts at bay and keep your mind stayed on Him. Renew your mind daily with the knowledge of Christ.

More than anything else, keep in mind that God’s love for you is unending. His goal is not to hurt you; it is to save you. Your happiness matters to Him but your salvation and growth matter more. And just like Job, God may take something away, but He will always make it worth your while. This doesn’t always mean that you get a better home or job, but it may just mean that He connects with you deeper. God didn’t give me a new relationship, but I have been brought into a deeper place with Him. He gave me more of what I needed to grow and if loss is what it took to get here, I’d go through it all again.

I pray that this blesses you!

Now the Lord blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning… – Job 42:12 NKJV

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Intimacy Fuels Ministry

As a young girl, I knew very early on that God had gifted me in some very special ways and that He would use me to share the Gospel with others. As I get older and grow in Him, I discover more and more of what He has given me. What I’ve recently discovered about myself is that I’m most effective as a witness and disciple when I am being extremely intimate with my Lord, Jesus Christ.

When coming up with strategic ways to share Jesus with others, it is so easy to limit our actual interaction with Jesus. We can spend a lot of time talking about Him, but little time talking with Him. It’s scary to think of how much satan must enjoy this. We load ourselves up with great things to do to the point where we are weak and susceptible to his attacks. I always wonder, why do we take the complicated route instead of allowing ourselves to become utterly consumed with Christ to the point that He effortlessly oozes out of our being?

This makes me think of some things I’ve recently learned about fatherhood. A Christian biologist by the name of Dr. John Medina has spent quite a bit of time researching the answer to the question,”what’s the most important thing I can do as a father?” After much searching, his answer to this question is simple: go home and love your wife. The advice is so simple, yet so profound. He didn’t say buy every new parenting book that is published, take classes, go to conferences or anything extra. He simply said love your wife, implying that if a man does that, the love that he has for her will drive him to love his children well and benefit them. I happen to think that ministry works the same way. Sometimes we look for magical solutions to growing our churches and increasing the spirituality of the people we minister to, when it could all be so simple.

What if the best way to minister is to others is to cultivate a red hot love affair with Jesus ourselves?

Think about marketing. Experts say that the best advertisement for any product is a happy customer. If stores have an excellent product, they don’t have to spend billions on advertising. One of my favorite restaurants know all about this. They have no commercials and I’ve never seen a coupon, yet when I visit the restaurant the line often starts outside the door. The restaurant is Chipotle. From the second I tasted it, I was absolutely hooked. The rice, the beans, the cheese, the guacamole…everything about it was perfect. It satisfied me. It filled me. It was delicious and I wanted more. And if you know anyone who loves Chipotle like me, they’ve probably had a similar conversation with you about how obsessed they are about it. You see, when something is amazing, it doesn’t need major strategies and big gimmicks. The news of it spreads like wild fire because it actually lives up to its name. Jesus is like this, but he’s so much greater than a burrito.

I honestly believe that if those of us who feel called to share Jesus would dedicate more time with Him instead of strategizing about how to present Him to others, I have no doubt that we would see more people crazy in love with Him and in intimate relationship with Him. Why can’t reading the Word, fasting and praying be enough for us? Why do we have to add so much to it? This week, I spent some time reading and watching a video of the book of Acts. What blew my mind was that anytime the body of believers was mentioned, they were praying together. Whenever there was a decision to be made, whenever Peter or Paul went to prison, whenever the body of believers was being persecuted, the small but faithful group prayed fervently.

I know that in our western, American Christian culture, we think that we need so much. Churches now have to stream and archive services, update Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, share the sermon notes in PDF form, add lots of gimmicks and bring in attractions to get people to church. Although I think technology, special programs and other tools can be awesome, I truly think that a lot of what we we do is done to distract us from the reality that we don’t have a consistent, intimate or real personal relationship with God. We can’t lay hands on the sick and heal them. We can’t cast out demons. We can’t perform miracles. And the reason that we can’t do these things is because we’re not consistently tapping into the vine.

“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.” – John 15:5-6 NKJV

If we would just allow ourselves to be consumed by Jesus, the fire that we have would attract others and they too, would want to be consumed by Him as well. The things that we do for God will only be as great as our personal relationship with Him. God is not impressed with titles, positions or numbers; He craves intimacy. Until we give that to Him, our efforts in ministry will be in vain.

New blog feature: Resource Library

Good afternoon friends,

I hope that you are all well. I wanted to write a short blurb about something that I’ve worked really hard on to be of service to you. When I’m looking up different topics and issues related to living as a Christian young adult, I come across many great resources. I find free e-books, sermons, videos, booklets, articles, blog posts, music and more. Some of the resources that I’ve come across online have been exactly what I needed to read at a particular time in life, and I feel that it’s only fitting to make these resources available to those who may come to my blog looking for insight on a particular topic.

So today, I formally welcome you to check out Where He Makes All Things Beautiful’s new resource library. Feel free to browse, explore and share. A friend of mine already started a book group from a great free resource she found there and it’s helping many of the women in a tremendous way. Also, if there is ever a particular topic you may be looking for Godly counsel or advice on, feel free to comment somewhere on the blog or use the Say Hello feature to ask me. More than likely, I know of something that can help.

God bless you and have an awesome day!

Brittany

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Draw Me Nearer – A 7-day Journey of Seeking Christ

Hello my dear friends,

I hope that your new year has been wonderful thus far. I am so excited to see the year 2013 and I am expectant for all that God will do! I wanted to come to you to share a project that I’m facilitating this coming week called Draw Me Nearer.

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For the past month, God has been placing people in my life who are looking for Him. They’ve grown up knowing Him but at some point, their relationship with Him has fallen off or for some, it never started. They’ve been lacking intimacy in their relationship with Him and they need revival. So, I asked God to help me really help people to know Him the way that I’ve gotten to know Him. For them to feel the Spirit stir inside them when they pray and worship. For them to hunger and thirst for Him to the point that it hurts. For them to be so in love that they just want to sit at His feet and pour their love on Him like oil. Intimacy is what I desire for them. 

O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is; To see thy power and thy glory, so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary. Because thy lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise thee. – Psalms 63:1-3 KJV

Last week while praying via telephone with some friends in Maryland, God gave me an idea. The idea was to facilitate a 7-day project where participants would intentionally seek God by fasting from media and committing to studying a topic or book of the Bible, praying in the morning as well as through the day, writing in journals and joining prayer calls. He also gave me the idea to gather a group of my friends who have a gift for intercession to fervently pray over the project, as well as each participant. Thus, Draw Me Nearer was born. I am excited because in the last 7 days, over 60 people from 4 countries and on 3 different continents have signed up. People who barely know God to those who have been walking with Him for years. People desire intimacy and a real knowledge of who God is, and it’s beautiful! The journey starts on Sunday, January 6th and I know that God is going to move in a mighty way. We’ve been praying that we would encounter Him in a way that we never have before. I thank God for giving me the ideas as well as the resources to make this happen and I feel so very blessed to be used. 

If you desire to cut out distractions and want deeper intimacy in your relationship with Christ, this might be something for you! If you would like to join in, simply fill out this form and I’ll be glad to e-mail you the details that you need to join in. This is for anyone who desires a closer walk with Christ. 

I ask that you all would keep me as well as the project and each participant in heavy prayer, that the Lord’s will would be done and that He would show Himself mighty and strong in the lives of us all this coming week. 

And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart. – Jeremiah 29:13 KJV

Sincerely,

Brittany 

Getting Desperate

As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God? – Psalm 42:1, 2 KJV

Hello friends. I haven’t blogged in a while and I wanted to sort of share some things that have been on my heart. This entire summer, I have been learning about what it means to truly seek God. For many years, I used phrases like “seeking Him,” “pursuing Him,” and “chasing after Him” all while not even lifting open the front cover of my Bible or praying regularly. I felt because I was reading my devotional every few days, whispering a quick prayer while half sleep and volunteering with ministries, that I must be pursuing Him. After all, that’s all there is to this Christian thing, right? Well, I’m learning now that I had no idea who He was because I wasn’t desperate for Him…

I think that many of us have a very poor understanding of what it means to pursue God. Earlier this summer, I read an amazing book called The Pursuit of God by A. W. Tozer, which I highly recommend. In the book, Tozer talks about how we don’t follow hard after Christ. He suggests that God is one who feels, loves, wants to communicate and that He will communicate with us. But the issue is that pursuing Him with fervor is not something that many of us are interested in. He says,

I want deliberately to encourage this mighty longing after God. The lack of it has brought us to our present low estate. The stiff and wooden quality about our religious lives is a result of our lack of holy desire. Complacency is a deadly foe of all spiritual growth. Acute desire must be present or there will be no manifestation of Christ to His people. He waits to be wanted. Too bad that with many of us He waits so long, so very long, in vain.

I completely agree with Tozer. The Psalmist says “as the hart (or deer) panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee.” My pastor preached on this a few weeks ago and painted an amazing picture of a panting deer. The definition of the word pant in this context is “to breathe quickly, spasmodically or in a labored manner” or “to long eagerly; yearn.” If I remember correctly, he told us to picture a deer that has been running hard and has been searching for water. You see, deer don’t have sweat glands so when they run and their bodies heat up, they breathe faster and become desperate for water. It’s the only way that they can get quick relief from the extreme heat in their bodies.

When was the last time your soul panted after Christ? Have you ever wanted to encounter Christ more than you wanted anything else in the world, even more than your next breath?

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Sometimes I wonder about the body of Christ, including myself. At times, I know I’d rather talk to my best friend for hours than pray for one. I could encounter the lover of my soul, but I’d rather watch TV. What’s even more pathetic is the fact that I’ve probably panted for cute shoes and money more than I have over Christ. Can you relate?

What is with us? Why are we so willing to chase, pursue, seek and work so hard for things that are so insignificant? Now, don’t get me wrong, our friends, family, and other people are always important. We should love as Christ loved. Education, work, responsibilities, etc are also very important. But when we spazz out if we miss our favorite tv show on Thursday night but not when we miss out on time with Christ, we have a problem. Priorities.

Yesterday, I had a talk with my dear friend Gabrielle and while discussing this matter, we came to the conclusion that we, the body of Christ, have to become extremely desperate and thirsty for Christ if we really want to see Him move! Like Tozer said, complacency kills! We have at times been so caught up in the church culture, our own agendas, our own limits on what we’ll give God and so many other things that completely distract us from truly seeking and pursuing God. I HATE this! It drives me crazy because God wants to change us, do even greater works in us than He did through Jesus and use us to spread His love to the ends of the Earth but we don’t want Him. He is literally waiting to be wanted by many of us. Why don’t we want Him? Have we really gotten drunk on the pleasures of the world to the point where we aren’t interested in the Bridegroom? Or is it that we’re so complacent and lukewarm in our “I’ll squeeze Jesus in where I get time” lifestyle that we have no desire for Him? Or perhaps, we are apart of the “I just like church because there’s good music and fine men” group who comes to browse but never purchase? Don’t even let me get on the “I don’t like this kind of music so I’m not worshipping” group! *regains composure* How did this happen? How did lukewarm Christianity completely over take us? How did we become so content offering Almighty God the leftovers of our time, devotion, love and life instead of what was first?

Satan loves a lukewarm Christian. He loves when we live our lives without pursuing God. As long as we never come to a full understanding of who Christ is or dedicate our lives to Him fully, satan knows that we’ll be powerless and completely subject to everything he throws at us…even the smallest of snares.

My prayer for all of us (self-included) is that we become completely desperate for Christ. That He becomes the place where we find joy, peace, love, comfort and shelter. Also, that we become so madly in love with Him that we would rather pursue Him than anything of this world.

We’ve got to get serious about falling in love with Jesus and following hard after Him every single day. Jesus over everything. NOTHING is more important.

Until next time,

Brittany

How Deeply I Need You – Shekinah Glory